WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian air base Thursday night in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed dozens.
It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president.
Trump ordered the strikes without approval from Congress or the backing of the United Nations.
U.S. officials said he had the right to use force to defend national interests and to protect civilians from atrocities. Syria called the attack an “aggression”.
How global leaders reacted:
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the U.S. attack on a Syrian air base saying he “fully supports” President Trump’s decision.
“In both word and action” Trump “sent a strong and clear message” that “the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated,” Netanyahu said.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the “Australian government strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States” in launching a rocket attack on a Syrian air base.
The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin believes that the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base is an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law.” Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin believes that the U.S. has dealt the strikes under “far-fetched pretext.”
A senior Russian lawmaker said the U.S. strike on Syria likely has put an end to hopes for Russia-U.S. cooperation in Syria. Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the Kremlin-controlled upper house of parliament said on Facebook that the prospective U.S.-Russian anti-terror coalition has been “put to rest without even being born.” Kosachev added that “it’s a pity,” suggesting that Trump had been pressured to act by the Pentagon.
Saudi Arabia praised Trump for his “courageous decision.” The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the missile launch by Trump was the right response to “the crimes of this regime to its people in light of the failure of the international community to stop it.”
Iran condemned the U.S. missile strike on Syria, saying the “unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law.”
Turkey welcomed the missile strike, saying it was an “important and meaningful” development but called for a continued tough stance against President Bashar Assad that would render him “no longer able to harm his people.” Turkey’s foreign minister has called for the removal of President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, while urging supporters of the regime to stop legitimizing it and to help establish a political solution.
The British government said it was informed in advance about U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, and firmly supports the American action. Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said the action was “an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.” Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said British officials have “been in close contact with the American government over the last couple of days,” and that Defense Secretary James Mattis informed him late Thursday that the U.S. planned to take military action in response to a chemical attack in Syria.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed support for the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian government-controlled air base. Abe said Japan understood and supported the U.S. strategy, saying the strikes were “a means to prevent further deterioration of the situation” referring to the suspected chemical attack earlier in Syria this week.
The leaders of Germany and France say President Bashar Assad brought American missile strikes upon himself by using chemical weapons. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said in a joint statement Friday after talking on the phone that “President Assad alone carries responsibility for these developments” with his “repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own people.”
China condemned this week’s deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria and said it supports an independent investigation under the United Nations.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen tweeted: “Good that coward assaults on women, men and children has consequences. The United States has clearly indicated that (Syrian President Bashar) Assad’s atrocities do not go unpunished.”
Italy said the U.S. strikes on Syria were “proportionate” given the “war crimes” committed by the Assad regime in using chemical weapons against its own people.